Debenhams exits high street for good

Debenhams exits high street for good
Debenhams had suffered slumping sales in recent years as shoppers moved away from traditional department store models. (Image: PA Wires)
// Debenhams shuts down remaining stores over the weekend, exiting the high street after 243 years
// The store closures were part of the department store’s liquidation process
// Debenhams will continue to exist but online-only after Boohoo bought it n a £55m deal

Debenhams has officially left the high street for good after shutting down its final batch of stores over the weekend.

The department store chain closed down its remaining 28 stores across the UK on Saturday, marking the final nail in the coffin in its 243 years of trading on the high street.

It had closed down 21 stores on the Thursday prior, and in the week ending May 8 it had shut down 52 stores.


Debenhams had suffered slumping sales in recent years as shoppers moved away from traditional department store models.

However, the enforced closure of sites during the pandemic was the final straw, resulting in the retailer falling into administration in April last year – just weeks after the first UK-wide lockdown began.

Debenhams then went into liquidation in December after the administration process failed to secure any buyers to save the business.

About a month later in January, its brand, ecommerce operations and assets were purchased by Boohoo Group in a £55 million deal.

The deal did not include Debenham’s store estate, which marked the end of the department store’s bricks-and-mortar estate.

Administrators said at the time that it would continue running closing down sales across Debenhams’ remaining shops – which counted 118 in December – once they were allowed to reopen.

On April 12, Debenhams reopened 97 stores in England and Wales to complete its final closing down sale as part of its liquidation process, and said it would continue to trade for a limited number of weeks until the stock in the stores is fully cleared.

Its remaining four stores Northern Ireland reopened on April 30 when non-essential shops there were able to reopen.

However, Debenhams did not reopen its 15 stores in Scotland when the country’s lockdown for non-essential retail was to be lifted on April 26. This resulted in 647 job losses.

With all of Debenhams’ stores closing down permanently as part of the liquidation and wind-down process, it means up to 12,000 staff would not have their jobs saved.

When it fell into administration in April last year, Debenhams went on to announce significant job cuts and store closures – including its flagship outlet on London’s Oxford Street.

That administration was also the second of its kind that Debenhams had launched within the space of 12 months.

The first administration in 2019 was followed up by CVA that saw it close down scores of stores immediately after the Christmas trading season that year.

Before that first administration, Debenhams operated from around 160 stores across the UK.

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  1. I agree with the previous comment that it is so sad (for the 12,000 or so hardworking staff who have now to try and find retail jobs when the vacancies in the retail sector are at a record low level) However, as a business, its actually surprising that Debenhams lasted until the pandemic as they had so many problems over the past three years with huge debt repayments to make, far too many large and expensive stores to maintain with unsustainable ‘occupancy costs’ and a customer offer that was below average and not compelling. Most of the shoppers in Debenhams only went when there was a Blue Cross sale on – very few customers paid full price and so there was a downwards spiral that was always going to end this way. The lockdown and other pandemic-related issues just accelerated the inevitable.

  2. What will happen to the Debenhams Department Stores that are franchises around the world , e.g. Dubai and Philippines the Philippines.


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